Date of Award

2015

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

E. Scott Huebner

Abstract

Both attachment theory and empirical evidence indicate that the quality of parental attachment profoundly influences many different aspects of adolescent life. However, one area that has been somewhat neglected in the literature is the discovery of the psychosocial mechanisms that account for the link between parental attachment and important adolescent developmental outcomes, such as social problem solving (D’Zurilla & Goldfried, 1971) and life satisfaction (LS: Diener, 1994). Driven by the conceptual framework of development of LS proposed by Evans (1994), Attachment Theory and Social Problem Solving Theory, a mediation model was hypothesized to explore the link between parental attachment and adolescent LS via two components of social problem solving: social problem solving orientation and social problem solving skills. A prospective design was used with a large sample of early adolescents (n=652) who participated at two time points, 6 months apart. Results showed that: 1) parental attachment significantly related to social problem solving orientation, social problem solving skills and LS; 2) the direct effect of parental attachment on later LS, accounting for baseline LS, was significant, and effect size was in the moderate range; 3) though social problem solving orientation and skill set both significantly correlated with LS, the mediated effects of social problem solving orientation and skill set in the link between parental attachment and LS were not significant, with very small effect size. These findings suggested that parental attachment is one important determinant of adolescents’ social problem solving (orientation and skill set, respectively) and LS. Possible explanations of the non-significant results were discussed. Implications for psychological and educational services for adolescents were highlighted. Limitations and recommendations for future research were also provided.

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